When the writing stops – a RE-introduction

When the writing stops . . . I didn’t plan to write a book.  Fifteen years ago – no TEN years ago – I would have laughed at the prospect. I mean, maybe a little devotional or a sweet little encouraging gift book?

In The Beginning . . .

. . . I found fanfiction – I started reading stories and found some incredibly well-written pieces, and some not-so-well-written. After reading some of the not-so-good, and running out of the excellent, I decided that if I wanted to read good stories, then maybe I should think about writing some. So I did. I found somewhat of a following, and the instant gratification was AMAZING.

That’s when I met author Lorna Seilstad. She and a few other writers on the site were trying to make the transition from fanfiction to published original fiction. I joined their group, and I started writing in earnest.

Serious Writer? Me?

I joined ACFW, and started networking on email loops and blogs, started writing on Inkspirational Messages, and before my first ACFW conference, I already had friends “in the biz.” The first author who reached out to me outside of our beloved Inkspers was Kaye Dacus. I interacted on her blog, and when we met, she said, “you’ve got to meet Kathy Cretsinger.”

Sometime after that, I did, and joined the Ken-Ten (Kentucky/Tennessee) Writers’ Group. I was in the group a little over a year when I really started looking for someone to publish my book. Since it’s Christian Fiction of the “romantical” sort, I thought maybe Love Inspired. They asked for a full manuscript, but when all was said and done, they didn’t want it. I entered contests. Got the same scores no matter WHAT I did to it.

So I gave up. Kinda.

After the last rejection, I took a break from writing, my writing group, and this blessed blog. But it wouldn’t go away. I tried starting other books. I kept going back to Carolina Dream, the book of my heart. I don’t know what it was about that story.

So, after a year of upheaval, minor health issues, and a busy life in general, I felt the urge to go back to my writing group, and writing. In corresponding with Kathy, who is the unofficial leader of our group, she indicated that she was interested in my book. She had read it, she liked it, and, by the way, she had a publishing company, Mantle Rock Publishing.

I wasn’t sure. I mean, was I ready? Had I missed my opportunity? It’s kind of like the guy who drowned in a flood. He got to the Pearly Gates and asked God why He didn’t rescue him? God said, “Man, I sent you a raft, a boat, and a helicopter!”

I felt like this opportunity, and Kathy, was my helicopter. I still do.

Publishing Contract Signing with Mantle Rock Publishing, Kathy Cretsinger
Publishing Contract Signing with Mantle Rock Publishing, Kathy Cretsinger

What Next?

Currently, my book, still titled Carolina Dream, is in the hands of an editor who is doing wonderful things with it. A graphic artist is working on a cover. One of these days I’ll reveal that both here and on my author website.

In April, after I get up from keeling over at the sight of my new book, I’ll invite all of YOU to the launch party.

God didn’t want me to quit writing indefinitely, but he had things to show me in the interim. Things like watching two girls grow up into young women, go to college, suffer heartbreak, move away, etc. Things like helping a husband get ready for retirement somewhere down the road. Things like accepting some things as they are, and changing things that need to be changed. Just little things like that.

It all came down to this – when I decided to get back in the writing game, I re-read the story of my heart. Guess what? I still liked it. I still LIKE it.

God doesn’t give you a story that’s a dud. EVER.

 

Thanks for reading, and for having me back!

Regina

Regina Merrick

Where were you on 9/11?

My parents can tell me where they were when they heard about the moon landing. My mom remembers when Robert Kennedy was assassinated. My grandparents have distinct memories of December 7, 1941.

On September 11, 2001, I became one of those people who can answer where I was when I heard about the worst terrorist attack on American soil in history.

I was a freshman at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, a small, state-run college in central Nebraska. I was 18 years old, and after a summer of feeling unsure about this new step into adulthood, I had finally found like I was settling in. I’d made new friends, gotten involved with a campus ministry, and felt like the world was full of possibilities.

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With my parents on my first day of college, about three weeks before 9/11.

The night of Sept. 10, 2001, a friend I had known since we were third graders at church camp hung out. We climbed to the top of a hill overlooking campus and sat in a brick gazebo, watching the lights of the city and the stars come out. The air was just turning cooler, and I remember he and I had a long talk about God, our futures, and what we wanted out of life. I don’t remember any of the specifics, but the one thing that has stuck with me for fifteen years was a feeling of peace, and certainty that all was right with the world.

The next day, the world flipped upside down.

I had an 8 a.m. class, and went to the computer lab to check my email when it got out at 9:15. There was a news headline about a plane hitting a building in New York, and I thought it was probably just some small Cesna with a poor pilot that killed a handful of people. I didn’t even click on the article.

A few minutes later, I went upstairs to my dorm room, and was greeted by one of my friends, in her bathrobe and pacing the hallway.

“Have you seen the TV?” she asked.

wtcwebI said I hadn’t, that I had just gotten out of class, and she pulled me into her room. There, on the TV, was the image that has been burned into every American’s brain since that day: the two towers of the World Trade Center afire, smoke billowing into the bright morning blue sky.

The rest of the day passed by in a blur. I called my parents, reached out to friends. Prayer vigils were organized, the Red Cross was taking blood donations, and professors hollowly lectured to classes whose minds were elsewhere. We might have been insulated in the heart of Nebraska, but everyone’s spirits were in New York City.

I wrote in my prayer journal later that day, “I have this horrible feeling that it might change life as we know it in the US. Are we going to war? Sweet Jesus, we need you to intervene and give this nation over to you. It doesn’t seem fair that last night was so wonderful and perfect, just talking to Phil on the hill and looking over Your creation. And then today this horrible terrorist attack happens.” I closed the entry with “You are an awesome God who right now is very busy listening to the prayers of others.”

I remember imagining that the US was going to war, that World War III was just around the corner. I wondered if all of the college boys I had just met would be drafted, and fight unknown enemies overseas. I (selfishly) wondered if I would become a spinster, because all of the men would die in combat.

Life has changed since 9/11, in ways that I couldn’t have predicted. My innocent childhood came to an abrupt end that day, and I learned what it was like to be an adult, to know that evil was real, that hatred drove people to do unthinkable things.

in-god-we-trustBut you know what? Although the world changed, God remained the same. He was and still is good. He is still the King of Kings and the Prince of Peace. He wept with the families who lost innocents in the attacks, and grieved with those who went to war to protect our freedoms. He held the broken and the hurting in his hands. And He guided the military to seek justice against the criminals who planned the attacks.

Someday, when my children ask me where I was on September 11, 2001, I want to tell them my story. But instead of ending it with  the image of fire and smoke, I want them to know that evil doesn’t win. That the story didn’t end with two collapsed buildings, a burning Pentagon, and a downed plane in a Pennsylvania field.

They need to know that it’s been fifteen years, but we’re still here. That God is still in control. And evil never wins.